BUDAPEST — I arrive in the city on a cloudy evening, two weeks after the worst floods in central Europe in 500 years have invaded towns along rivers in Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. The waters are receding but still above normal levels. As I board the Scenic Pearl, the ship that will be my floating hotel room for a weeklong cruise along the Danube River, the sky is spitting rain. Just my luck.
Jet-lagged, I trudge to my cabin — surprisingly modern and spacious (larger than some hotel rooms I’ve encountered) — open the curtains, and am astounded by a view of the Hungarian Parliament building, lighted and sparkling like a many-tiered tiara on the opposite shore.